Chasing the city through the city, I plot a course through its quarters, inscribing another pattern that can be traced on its street-map — not a deliberate Hawksmoor sigil, but a shape that's almost autistic in its detachment from geometry. It's the shape of a day spent soaking up the evidence, from the touched-up facades of Dankó utca to the closed Cafe Lukács, from the falafel outlet at the Al Amir to the benches, outside the metro at Deák tér, where pigeons comb a mound of bare earth, in search of bugs, like Roundheads conducting a house-to-house search in a costume drama.
I'm simultaneously engaged and bored. There's no pretence at sightseeing on my part on a day like this, no further motivation to pick out plums from the metropolitan pie. If I'm straining for new insights, things that haven't been revealed by earlier visits or by similar streets, they'll be found by serendipity and won't ever make the guidebooks.
Inside my head, another street-map becomes more detailed. I can refer to it whenever I want — for example, if I happened to be typing this out at home, on a Sunday morning, two thousand kilometres to the west. At times, it resembles an immaculately-scaled model, seen through slightly frosted glass, at other times something assembled, blindly and randomly, with string, wire, plasticine and glues of equine heritage. In either case, it exists and answers to the name of the city. Nor, of course, do I take from the city in order to acquire it.
Back home again, I can also unfold the map, look down on streets that possess another dimension — simultaneously above and within them. There are several cities I 'inhabit' in this way, and I'm glad not all of them are in my native land.
So what can be done with this information — and what value is it to others? The flâneur considers this, if at all, in hindsight. The first thing she or he thinks of is the pleasure of traversing ground, on the trail of a quarry that can never be caught. The city flows into the mind but, conversely, the mind flows into the city and transfigures its accretions — as if, in the last resort, a single substance was possible, and had emerged. Within that context, one step succeeds another, one sight supplants another and a line is inscribed, an indelible signature of anonymity.
from Inscriptions — Pannonian voyages